By now you must realize that I have a huge bias about the purpose of homeschooling: I think we should be raising kids to go out in the world and figure out what they want to do with themselves. It’s a skill that I see so many people missing because they spent their life being told what to be interested in.
Almost all career problems are the result of someone not understanding what is interesting to them or what they are passionate about. And you can say that there’s more to life than your career, but there is not anything you will spend more time on than your career. So you may as well prepare kids to be good at managing their work life.
I want to say, right here, that I believe raising kids to have a career as a full-time parent is worthy and important. I’m not actually sure how to do it. Like, how do you tell a kid to pursue their own interests and when their interest is taking care of a spouse and kids, do you start preparing the kid to be good at picking a spouse? Do you teach them to take care of a baby? I just don’t know.
But I do know what kids need to learn in order to be successful at picking a career.
In fact, I have been publishing information about the uselessness of college for the last ten years, and one of the first people to open my eyes to how widespread this discussion is was Bill Coplin, a professor at Syracuse University. He made me see that questioning the value of college was going to be a mainstream discussion sooner or later.
So, here we are, many years later, and Bill has a great book titled, Ten Things Employers Want You to Learn in College. This book matters to homeschoolers because it’s stuff your kids can learn now. There’s no reason they need to wait for college to learn this stuff. And the list isn’t just stuff that makes people good employees, but also good spouses and good parents and good friends. Because all these parts of life are about relationships and being our best selves.
Okay, so here is an abridged version of Bill’s list. But this is a list that I find really helpful when I think about what is important, day to day, in my own homeschool house:
1. Taking responsibility. Be self-motivated to manage your time and your money.
2. Developing physical skills: Stay well, look good, and write legibly.
3. Communicating verbally: One on one, to a group, use visual displays.
4. Communicating in writing: Edit yourself. Proofread.
5. Building good relationships: Work in teams and teach others.
6. Influencing people: Sell successfully, politick wisely.
7. Gathering information: Search the Web, conduct interviews, keep and use records.
8. Using quantitative tools: Use graphs and spreadsheets.
9. Asking and answering the right questions: detect nonsense, pay attention to details.
10. Solving problems: Identify problems, develop solutions, launch solutions.
In case you don’t know, I have an editor for this blog. He used to edit my other blog while I had silent disdain for his ignorant, underachiever choice to homeschool his kids. Then, kind of overnight, I decided to homeschool and he became my homeschool mentor. Actually, his wife became my mentor, since, of course my editor works at a desk all day while she homeschools. And, just to be clear, he does not work on editing my blog all day. He has a very serious day job which he allows me to interrupt with emergencies like I can’t remember the link he sent to me that I said was too depressing to publish. (He found it. Here it is).
Okay. So, anyway, he says that this is not a good post unless I talk about an item on the list that my family is having trouble with. And because I am not a nice person, or because I am an insightful person (such a fine line) I decide to instead figure out what his family is worst at.
It’s number six. Selling and politicking. Because they don’t care. They do their own thing and they have strong values and if people don’t get it, who cares. That’s what his wife would say, I think. Although I don’t ever talk to her. I just talk about her. It’s sort of a separation of church and state thing in my blog/editor lifestyle.
But then I realize that I, also, am most weak at number six. And then I realize that all homeschoolers are most weak at number six. Because number six is about caring what other people think and adjusting because of it, and homeschooling is not caring what other people think so that you can do what you think is right.
So, I guess I will be working on number six. And so will you.
And I should probably start by deleting all the stuff about my editor’s wife, because definitely she has allowed me to interrupt their dinner with utter blog stupidity many times. And it would be good politicking to say something good right now. But all I can think of is that I like being around people who are bad at number six.